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Congratulations! You’ve finally got that break. The promotion you’ve waiting and working hard for all these years, is yours now. The rise in salary, the perks and benefits, able now to give orders and instructions and yes, you’re in command now. What a feeling!
But there is a difference now, between your job now and before. Different roles come with different sets of responsibilities. The best way to start is by reading into your new duties and responsibilities and understanding your key performance index and key responsibility areas in order to fit and in and perform your best.
Chapter 1 - Roles & Responsibilities of a Supervisor 9.......................
Responsibility to the Middle & Top Management 9............................
• Reliable - Planning Your Work 9...................................................................
•Communication - With Team Members 10...................................................
• Communication - Inter Department Staffs 10.............................................
• Possess Skills and Knowledge - Able To Maintain Work Discipline 11....
• Possess Skills and Knowledge - Able To Uphold Employees Morale 12.
• Possess Skills and Knowledge - Able To Execute Authority 13.................
• Making Decisions - Production Decisions 14.............................................
• Making Decisions - Job Priority 14..............................................................
• Manage Cost Control - Managing Resources 15.......................................
• Manage Cost Control - Efﬁcient Workﬂow 16............................................
• Manage Cost Control - Managing Unproductive Employees 17.............
• Improvement Activities - Collect and Report Feedback for Productivity
Responsibility to Subordinates 19......................................................
• Right Person for the Right Job - They Must Be our Saviours and Not
our Worst Nightmare 19...............................................................................
• Instruct and Train Employees – Strive for Continuous Improvement 20..
• Trusting Work Climate – Employees Are Able To Talk Openly About
• Treating all Employees Equally – United We Stand, Divided We Fall 22.
• Be a Pillar of Support – as a Counsellor 23.................................................
• Be a Pillar of Support – as a Mentor 24........................................................
Building on Your Strengths and Overcoming Your Weaknesses 25....
Chapter 2 - Keys to Effective Supervision 27......................................
• Support Employees Growth 27....................................................................
• Unite With Your Team 28...............................................................................
• Praise Employees 29.....................................................................................
• Expect Excellence 30.....................................................................................
• Require Responsibility 31.............................................................................
• Verify Potential 32..........................................................................................
• Instil Independence 33.................................................................................
• Optimise Ownership 34................................................................................
• Reinforce Relationship 35.............................................................................
Chapter 3 - Communications Basics 36...............................................
Factors That Affects Your Communication 36......................................
• The Knowledge About Your Work 36..........................................................
• Use of Authority 37........................................................................................
• Show of Self Conﬁdence 38.........................................................................
• Note Taking 39...............................................................................................
• Asking Questions 39.....................................................................................
Chapter 4 - Managing Staff Performance 41......................................
Setting Performance Standards 41......................................................
• Good Management Practices 41.................................................................
• Benchmarking Against Good Industry Practices 42...................................
• Practical and Achievable Performance Standards 42................................
Measuring and Evaluating Performance 44........................................
• Achieving Performance Targets 44..............................................................
• Taking Corrective Actions 45........................................................................
Chapter 5 –Essential Leadership Skills 47...........................................
Setting a Good Example 47.................................................................
• Driver of the Company’s Mission, Vision and Values 47............................
• Lead Change 48.............................................................................................
• Lead by Example 49......................................................................................
Empowering and Energising 50..........................................................
• Inspire and Energise Team Members 50.....................................................
• Empower Employees 51...............................................................................
Leading Your Team 52.........................................................................
• Involve Everyone – Use Team Approach 52................................................
• Monitor Progress but Don’t Micromanage 54............................................
Chapter 6 –Managing Conﬂicts at Workplace 56...............................
Workplace Conﬂicts 56.......................................................................
• What Creates Conﬂicts? 56...........................................................................
• Reasons Behind Conﬂicts 57........................................................................
• Conﬂict Resolution Strategies 59.................................................................
Chapter 7 –Managing Discipline at Workplace 61..............................
Who Is Responsible? 61......................................................................
•Enforcing Discipline 62...................................................................................
Chapter 8 –Motivating and Coaching Your Team 64...........................
Ask Versus Tell Approach 64...............................................................
•Focus on the Task 65........................................................................................
•Coaching Objectives 66..................................................................................
•Coaching Situations 67...................................................................................
•Coaching Plus Points 68..................................................................................
Parting Words 70................................................................................
About the Author 72...........................................................................
Congratulations! You’ve ﬁnally got that break. The
promotion you’ve waiting and working hard for all these
years, is yours now. The rise in salary, the perks and
beneﬁts, able now to give orders and instructions and yes,
you’re in command now. What a feeling!
But there is a diﬀerence now, between your job now and
before. Diﬀerent roles come with diﬀerent sets of
responsibilities. The best way to start is by reading into
your new duties and responsibilities and understanding
your key performance index and key responsibility areas in
order to ﬁt and in and perform your best.
When you succeed, you would rise even further in your
career, otherwise you’ll be reverted to your earlier position.
In worst case scenario, terminated for non-performance.
Obviously, failure is not an option here, so let’s move on to
learn what is there to know, to succeed and excel as a
This book is not about soft skills you’d need know as a
supervisor. Though, it’ll be good if you could get your
hands on such books for your own personal development.
This book is written to address some of the immediate
issues you might face at your workplace.
It acts as your practical guidebook on how you could
practically address some the challenges, you’ll come across
daily at your workplace. It explains the “how” part, to get
straight to the problem and solve it.
The work-related challenges covered in this book are not
exhaustive, but it acts as good start. It gives you the big
picture of the roles and responsibilities expected of you
and how you could dive in straight into it and emerge as a
good role model supervisor.
Chapter 1 - Roles & Responsibilities of
Responsibility to the Middle & Top Management
• Reliable - Planning Your Work
Precision planning is the key to any successful business,
no matter its size. Planning can help alleviate workplace
stress and increase productivity. Rather than plan work too
far in advance, do it daily, modifying your agenda for the
next day according to new priorities and unﬁnished
business from the day before. This can help you accomplish
goals more eﬃciently.
Planning is the work you do before the real work. More
like a blueprint before constructing an object. It is about
thinking over issues, the pros and cons to eliminate
ﬁreﬁghting when the work is halfway through. As the
saying goes, plan your work and work your plan.
It is meant to reduce loss of valuable resources that could
lead to negative ﬁnancial implications to your organization.
It would be wise not to rush the planning process but good
to speed up its implementation and not the other way
around. Many has learned the hard way that haste makes
•Communication - With Team Members
Eﬀective communication and teamwork will help a
business maintain a positive work environment. Eﬀective
communication also permeates throughout all areas of
business operations, because a positive workplace means
happier employees are interacting with the public and with
consumers. Eﬀective communication among business
teams begins with leadership that sets clear methods and
There are two types of persons. A machine person and a
people person. The former can’t stand people and latter
hates working on machines. The ones that can adapt to
both man and machine becomes a right ﬁt for the job. You
need to be good at working with machines, as they are your
tools of your trade.
A people person is crucial to keep the team together to
ensure that the job gets done. Weakness in dealing with
both man and machine, leads communication problems
between supervisors and subordinates, that could result in
disastrous implications to the production line.
• Communication - Inter Department Staﬀs
If your business has multiple departments or employees
who are in charge of diﬀerent tasks, it is important to
u n d e r s t a n d h ow e ﬀe c t ive i n te rd e p a r t m e n t a l
communication works. Interdepartmental communication
is the process of sharing information between diﬀerent
business groups. Regardless of how many employees a
business has, communication among employees helps to
ensure the business runs seamlessly.
No man is an island and one cannot work in silos, if they
are serious about getting the job done and done well. Inter
department rivalries are unhealthy as it stalls progress at
workplace. It is a result of “they against me” and “I am
more important than them” behaviours.
Such attitude has no winners and the organization
becomes the loser. By putting aside such behaviours in the
interest of the organization, it would make everyone a
• Possess Skills and Knowledge - Able to Maintain Work
The point of administering any type of discipline in a
workplace setting is to change negative behaviours into
positive ones. If an employee routinely comes in late, for
example, the goal of any employer action is to get the
employee to be at work on time. The goal is not to punish
per se, but instead to change behaviour.
All internal mechanisms inside a clock has to work
precisely as designed to be able to tell the time correctly at
all times. If faulty mechanisms are not calibrated and
damaged ones are not removed and replaced, the time of
the day would be any one’s guess. Imagine such a situation
in a production line.
With undisciplined workforce, it would be an uphill task
for supervisors to achieve the set daily production and
quality targets. They must look out for bad apples and take
the necessary disciplinary action to arrest the problem in
the butt, as the weakest link in a chain could collapse the
• Possess Skills and Knowledge - Able to Uphold
Low employee morale is detrimental to work
environments, so it's essential that supervisors react to it as
soon as they recognise it. Low morale can cause employees
feel so disconnected from the companies they work for that
they lose interest in coming to work, become less
productive and are less invested in the growth of the
business and their own personal and professional
Business uncertainties and new changes brought about
by higher management may not augur well with employees.
The rumour mill goes into full gear, creating divisions
among employees. The supervisors need to understand
and learn all there is need to know about the issues that are
aﬀecting the morale of their team members, so as to keep
the matter well under control.
In such times, they need to become the pillar of strength
to their members, in order to keep their morale high. With
immediate and proper explanation, supervisors could help
calm the situation and weed out rumours. The employees
would be able to get their acts together and work with high
spirits once again.
• Possess Skills and Knowledge - Able to Execute
Authority is the formal right to do the work. Authority
gives the supervisor the power to enforce obedience. It is
the power to give orders and make sure that these orders
are obeyed. It is a relationship between two individuals, the
supervisor and the subordinate. The supervisor frames and
transmits decisions with the expectation that they will be
accepted by the subordinate. The subordinate expects such
decisions, and his conduct is determined by them.
When you are promoted amongst your colleagues and
tasked with supervising them, the job becomes a little
tricky. They know your weaknesses and tend to take you
for granted. You were once with them as colleagues and
now to instruct them on what to do, it is not going to be
easy, for either one of you. Organisations has unwritten
policies that once a person gets promoted, they need to be
transferred. It is eﬀective to manage a new team than to
work with an existing team who knows all too much about
But in smaller organisations, this may not be possible,
and you have to make the best of it and perform. The trick
is to be ﬁrm where necessary and friendly when possible.
There must be a balance. Either extreme would spell
disaster for you and for your team. When it involves work,
be ﬁrm and when it involves creating a happy and
conducive work environment, be friendly. You’ll need to
learn the ropes and learn it fast.
• Making Decisions - Production Decisions
Supervisors are required to make a series of decisions in
the production function. They plan, organise, staﬀ, direct
and control all the activities in the process of converting all
the inputs into ﬁnished products. At each level, supervisors
are expected to make decisions and implement them too.
Things that can go wrong will go wrong. Despite good
planning and coordinated execution, the chances that
things might not work as planned will always remain.
Machine breakdowns, disruption to the supplies of utilities,
rejections from quality issues and others, calls for some
problem solving and decision-making skills from the
supervisor. These are some of problems that supervisors
fear having to face in the production line but rightfully,
they should not.
They should focus on making decision to solve the
problem then worrying over them. Worries does not solve
problems but problem solving and decision making does.
There are lessons to be learned and the right counter
measures must be put in place to avoid a similar recurrence
in the future. You need to take charge of the situation, ﬁnd
a way with your team and come out of it victorious.
• Making Decisions - Job Priority
In order to do your job eﬀectively and to the best of your
ability it helps to prioritise your tasks. Planning your day
ensures you meet company goals and deadlines, and it
helps keep you in line with what is expected from you by
management. When you prioritise tasks, you perform at
higher levels, which will make you more responsible,
eﬃcient and reliable. It also helps you to limit interruptions
and helps prevent you from wasting time.
Work never ends and as much as you would like to there
is only so much one could within the given number of
working hours. A little knowledge on time and task
management helps. We need to produce our best work to
keep the productivity and eﬃciency of the plant at
With experience, you’ll be able to diﬀerentiate tasks that
are urgent, important and time wasters. Be focused, spent
time on tasks that matters that has a positive impact on
your roles and responsibilities as a supervisor.
• Manage Cost Control - Managing Resources
Resource management is acquiring, allocating and
managing the resources, such as individuals and their skills,
ﬁnances, technology, materials, machinery and natural
resources required for a project. Resource management
ensures that internal and external resources are used
eﬀectively on time and to budget.
Low production cost keeps prices of products and
services low and helps increase sales in the competitive
market. This is possible when wastage are kept in check.
Scheduled maintenance of plant and machineries must be
in place to minimise breakdowns. Expenses on utilities
must relate to production output and if there is a
mismatch, it must be rectiﬁed.
Product quality inspections must be stringent to
minimise rejections and possible delays in deliveries to
buyers. Workplace safety must be monitored to prevent
occupational hazards that could lead to loss of man hours
which could disrupt plant operations.
Overstocking of production material must be avoided as
it takes up valuable space, prone to damages and risks
expiry of its shelf life. If these issues are left unresolved, the
products and services of the organization becomes
uncompetitive in the marketplace and its ﬁnancial
implications are all too obvious.
• Manage Cost Control - Eﬃcient Workﬂow
Every team is diﬀerent, and every workﬂow is diﬀerent.
Take some time to ﬁgure out what kind of system works for
you. Having a workﬂow in place, no matter how simple,
brings so much sanity to a team. When there’s a deﬁned
system in place, everyone knows exactly what their
responsibilities are and how it will contribute to the bigger
Everyone knows what’s expected of them and know who
to ask if they have a question. It’s an empowering way to
work, and empowered people are productive people.
We need to periodically evaluate the plant layout, to see
if the arrangement of machineries and workstations are
rightly position for operational eﬀectiveness and eﬃciency.
Past set ups might not jive well with present production
requirement. Supervisors could do a motion study to see if
the movement and man and material is at its minimum and
get it reorganised, if it not. These are some of the initiatives
that could save your organization time and money.
• Manage Cost Control - Managing Unproductive
It’s every supervisor’s nightmare: being stuck with team
members who can’t seem to or be bothered to, get their
acts together. We run into people who are a constant pain.
They’re not punctual. They take longer than everyone else
to ﬁnish their work. The work they do isn’t great. And they
have an irresistible urge to check their phone every few
You suspect they don’t put in 100 percent because if they
did, it’d be reﬂected in their productivity. You’ve even
spoken to them about it. They shared their sob story with
you and promised to do better, but nothing’s changed. You
wonder what’s up. Stop giving them the beneﬁt of doubt.
You have a slacker on your hands, and you have to get
tough with them.
The reason organisations employ people is to add value
to their business. They are deemed as investment by the
organization and expected to yield proﬁts, not losses and
end up as liabilities to the organization. Supervisors must
have an eye for non-performers and isolate them for
training and development.
They need to help turn them into performers if they
don’t wish to see them as paid passengers in the team. If all
else fails, letting them go would be a move in a right
direction. If this ignored and swept under the carpet, the
rest of your team members would suﬀer, and so does your
organization. You are not paid become the nice guy, but
you are paid to do the right thing.
• Improvement Activities - Collect and Report Feedback
for Productivity Improvements
Many companies are starting to treat employees like
customers. They want to earn their engagement, loyalty,
and advocacy. The ﬁrst step to building healthy and happy
work cultures is by gathering and analysing employee
Not all employee feedback is equal, though. Learn about
the basics of employee satisfaction and how you can
eﬀectively collect, analyse, and implement employee
feedback to improve work productivity and job satisfaction
in your workplace.
Placing suggestion boxes for employees’ feedback is
doomed to fail if supervisors don’t take it seriously and
soon the employees would know it. If it is acted upon and
the outcome is shared with your team members, it would
motivate them to participate more actively in the future.
They would feel appreciated that the organization takes
them seriously by implementing their feedbacks, which
makes them feel they have a say in the organization. Small
rewards in appreciation of their feedbacks would also go a
long way, if the organization is serious about continuous
Responsibility to Subordinates
• Right Person for the Right Job - They Must Be Our
Saviours and Not Our Worst Nightmare
Hiring the right employees can make or break your
business. A person committed to his or her career is the
candidate you want to hire. You don't want to hire an
employee who switches careers or jobs frequently, just to
get a higher salary.
If a candidate is not loyal to any company, hiring this
person could deﬁnitely be a problem for your business. You
would also want to ﬁnd an employee that will ﬁt in with
your company's culture.
It is commonly known that people are the most valuable
asset of an organization. But in actual fact, only the
performing ones are, the rest are just liabilities. It is only
right for the supervisor to sit in as the panel of interviewers
to identify and select the right candidate for the job. This
crucial task must not be left to Human Resource alone.
It is expected of candidates to put up their best show
during the interview process, but it takes an experienced
interviewer to know the diﬀerence. Emphasis must be
made on the candidate’s skills and experience, but their
attitude should matter the most.
People can be trained and taught if they fall short of the
required skills and experience, provided they have the right
attitude. Employing someone with remarkable skills and
experience, but with bad attitude, is a failure from the
start. Skills and experience can be acquired over time, but
attitude is something else, either they have it or they don’t.
If for some reason, the wrong candidate is employed, all
is not lost. Make use of the probation period to evaluate his
or her performance, caution them if they fall short of
performance and if everything else fails, terminating their
services would be your great service to the organization
and your team members.
• Instruct and Train Employees – Strive for Continuous
Continuous improvement process is an ongoing eﬀort to
make improvements to the products, services, or processes
of the organization. The continuous improvement process
is one of ongoing incremental improvements, where a
business continues normal business activities, while
constantly seeking out new opportunities to add value to
their products, services and processes.
Continuous quality improvement can accomplish major
change over time; however, it is completely driven by the
input of employees, as its eﬀectiveness relies on the team’s
dedication to the process.
The Japanese manufacturing industry strived on
“Kaizen”, meaning continuous improvement. The covers
the work process in the areas of man, machine, material
and method. Each one of these elements undergoes
continuous improvement process that results in
improvements to its product and services. This has led to
the production and operations eﬃciency of Japanese
companies, triumphing over their competition in the global
Supervisors may form a small think tank group with their
team members to ﬁnd a better way to do things. The
person who does the job knows it better than anyone less.
Surely, many brains put together is better than one.
You’ll be surprised by the solutions they could provide
that resolves many of the production and manufacturing
issues that routinely beleaguers your organization.
• Trusting Work Climate – Employees Are Able to Talk
Openly About Problems
Getting candid opinions from your direct reports can be
diﬃcult. After all, no one wants to upset the boss.
Supervisors need to encourage their team members to have
honest conversations with them, and to speak up when it’s
important, because they are on the job and they
understand problems and possibilities, what works and
what doesn’t, better than you.
The management style of the supervisor determines, if
they are loved or despised by their team members.
Supervisors can’t get it wrong if they manage staﬀs
professionally, both in a fair and ﬁrm manner. The element
of fear would diminish, and an atmosphere of trust would
The rank barrier between a supervisor and subordinate
ought to be removed and replaced with mutual respect for
one another. Staﬀs must be allowed to speak their minds
freely without fear of any repercussions. This builds trust
and this trust must never be broken. It must be
remembered that, irrespective of one’s rank and position in
the organization, we are all actually employees of the same
No one person is important or greater than the other. We
are just one team, employed by the organization to achieve
its business goals and objectives.
• Treating All Employees Equally – United We Stand,
Divided We Fall
Most of us have experienced favouritism. If you weren’t
the favourite, do you remember how that made you feel?
The chances are high that it didn’t make you feel positive
about yourself or the person showing preferences.
Workplace favouritism feels even worse, as it decreases
morale and productivity.
That’s why it is critical for supervisors to understand why
treating employees fairly, consistently across their
workforce, is necessary for individual and overall company
Dissenting voices must be allowed for staﬀs to vent their
dissatisfaction or unhappiness over any work-related
matter. This gives an opportunity for the supervisors to
resolve problems before it gets out of control, which if left
unattended, could make matters worse for their
Supervisors must learn to counter dissents with reasons
and backed up by facts and ﬁgures. Anything less would
not go down well with your team members.
Supervisors must take a professional approach in dealing
with dissents and avoid taking it personally. It is not about
the supervisor or the dissenters as a person. It is all about
the issue they are unhappy about. They just need to focus
on the issue and resolve it professionally and abstain from
taking it personally.
• Be a Pillar of Support – As a Counsellor
The counselling process is about providing a sounding
board for an employee, giving them a safe place to talk
about issues that trouble them, and allowing supervisors to
help them ﬁnd their own solutions to problems or develop
better ways to manage issues.
It is not about giving advice, but about providing a non-
judgmental, empathic and accessible means to allow an
employee to ﬁnd a way forward.
To perform well at work, one needs to be in the right
mind frame to give their best. Sometimes, we may have a
team member who might be facing some personal
They might not want to bother you with this, but like it
or not, you’re involved as the work of team would suﬀer as
a consequence. You might need to counsel them, suggest
solutions that could help them get out of the problem.
Your counselling may or may not have solved their
problem. But since you cared and listened, this brings relief
to them and you’re remembered for being there for them.
That matters. As a word of caution, try not get involved too
personally in trying to solve their problem, lest it now
becomes your problem. Always draw the line and do not
• Be a Pillar of Support – As a Mentor
As a mentor, supervisors focus on the growth and
development of their team members. It’s a deeper
connection than the one between a supervisor and a team
member. When supervisors only care about productivity,
employees in return would only care about their pay check.
Mentors care about their team members and want to see
them succeed. As a mentor, supervisors can create strong
relationships with their team members by prioritising their
wellbeing. Being a supervisor is a responsibility, being a
mentor is a commitment.
Your rise in career could be a success story your team
members want to follow. Be the best in what you do, do the
right things and always walk the talk. These are some of the
qualities that attracts others and gives you a strong
inﬂuence over them. They would readily listen to you, want
to learn from you and want to become like you. It is
Your job as a supervisor is easy in good times but you’ll
be remembered more if you succeed in managing during
bad times. This is the time you’d need to stand strong as a
pillar, and your team members would feel secured and
conﬁdent having you as their mentor in riding through
tough times. Obviously, you need to have what it takes to be
their mentor. It must be earned.
Building on Your Strengths and Overcoming Your
Survey ﬁnds that about 89% of managers believe
employees leave for more money. It also states that, 88% of
employees actually leave for reasons related to the job, the
culture, the manager or the work environment. Another
43% of workers report that they do not feel valued by their
This gives credence to the common ﬁnding that people
leave the bosses, not the organization. Further, those
who’ve left, didn’t mind a downgrade in salary or in
position. They felt happy working under a better supervisor
and this conducive work environment allowed them to
perform better than their last job.
About 71% of employers do not engage with their
workers. And 66% of workers do not identify with or feel
motivated to drive their employer’s business goals and
objectives. Such a situation takes place when employers
treat their staﬀs as employees, and not as partners. As far
as the employers are concerned, employees are just
numbers in their payroll, to be used and discarded.
As a consequence, employees do not have a sense of
belonging towards the organization. They stay put when it
is in their best interest and leave for the same reason. There
is no loyalty. Japanese companies practice a culture of
lifelong employment, treating their employees as partners.
Their employees remain in employment during good and
bad time as a result of high employee engagement, which
evident across their organization.
Despite being treated well by their supervisors, it
remains true that employees still leave for greener
pastures, but this only accounts for 12%. The main reason
88% of them leave jobs is because of poor relationship with
their immediate supervisor.
High employee attrition has bad ﬁnancial implications to
the organization. It drains the organization of time and
money for new recruitment, training and development.
Your competitors would gain the most, when those who
leave, take along their experience and expertise with them.
These some of the pertinent issues facing the industry,
and as supervisors, we need to know and learn of our
weaknesses to become accepted and respected team
Chapter 2 - Keys to Effective
• Support Employees Growth
Taking an active role in the development of your team
demonstrates conﬁdence and concern for the future of the
organization. It also gives employees feelings of
signiﬁcance, community, and value. When you create a
culture in which employees can reach their goals and know
their thoughts and insights are appreciated, you boost
productivity, morale, and engagement.
Employees may want to stay and grow in the
organization and supervisors can help by making the
career path clear for them. They want to see how they
could get from point A to B and expect their organization to
support them with their career development plan.
Supervisors can discuss this with the higher management
and ﬁnd ways to support their team members in their
career development plan. They could begin by having a
comprehensive training and development plan in place
A competency-based training helps close the gaps of
skills required of an employee. This would be to the
advantage of the organization to have competent work
force, well suited for the task they are entrusted. The
problem with some organisations is that they view training
as expenses, when rightfully they should view it as an
investment. You build the people; they build the company.
Performance appraisal must be used as a template to
help employees achieve the work standards required of
them by the organization. It must be used as tool to uplift
them, not as a tool to ﬁnd fault and punish them.
Performance appraisal is usually prepared at the
beginning of the year and evaluated by the end of the year.
Supervisors need not wait to appraise their team member
at the end of the year end, rather a quarterly assessment
would be recommended.
With quarterly evaluation, the performance of staﬀs can
be monitored closely, and help could be extended to them,
if they fall short. When this is done continuously,
supervisors could expect all their team members to
succeed in attaining the standards required of them.
• Unite with Your Team
Business is a team sport. If your team respects you,
they’ll go above and beyond for you. But if they don’t
respect you, you’ll have trouble succeeding. In order to
gain and keep the respect of your team member, you have
to prove that you’re worthy, especially if you were recently
promoted to your supervisory position.
Supervisors need to ﬁnd all ways possible to stay closer
to their team members. Instead of waiting for them to come
see us, we should be the one to go and talk to them. We
need to be available and readily accessible to them all
We ought to practice an open-door policy, where our
team members could walk in and walk out to meet us
without notice. They must be able to talk to us on a one to
one basis to discuss and resolve matters pertaining to work
and non-work issues. This creates good bonding, hinders
miscommunication and a show a genuine concern for our
team members as members of the family.
• Praise Employees
When the issues warrant it, supervisors should praise
their team members in public, but must learn to only
reprimand them in private. Reprimanding individuals must
never be done publicly, unless it is addressed generally to
all the team members.
Even if your patience is being tested, hold your tongue.
This will beneﬁt both you and your employee in terms of
maintaining respectability. As human beings, we don’t
respond well to criticism. Most people go into a defensive
mode when you give them critical feedback, so it needs to
be done in private.
Sometimes a little motivation goes a long way for the
staﬀs we manage. If you ﬁnd them doing something right,
praise them then and there. Highlight this even during your
meeting with all your team members. This would
encourage them to keep up to the good work, and what’s
more, it motivates the members of your team do the same.
The trick is to catch them doing right and take it as an
opportunity to praise them.
If we only train our eyes to catch them doing wrong, such
actions would make staﬀs feel unappreciated and
demotivated. Staﬀs who’ve been humiliated in front of
others would always remember you for the wrong reason.
They’ve lost their dignity in front of their colleagues and
you’ve lost your respect and credibility as their supervisor.
There are no winners here, just losers.
• Expect Excellence
Want your team to roar past their goals? Explain the big
picture, why they are doing what they are doing and set
clear expectations. Your employees need to understand
how they ﬁt into the company, why their job is important
and what they must do to help the company reach its goals.
Plumb deeply to make sure each and every team member
understands how he or she contributes to the overall
Never underestimate the potential of your team
members. Do make it a point to set a high but achievable
target in order for them to reach their maximum potential.
For this to work, supervisors must ensure that each one of
their members are fully aware and clearly understand what
their job requires of them.
Job description, key performance area and key
performance index must be updated on a regular basis to
reﬂect the current work process. Otherwise it would
diﬃcult to evaluate the performance of your team
members based on outdated benchmarks.
• Require Responsibility
A lack of accountability and responsibility at work sends
a message to the rest of your staﬀ that lower standards are
okay. The team may begin to resent the low-performing
employee and you as their supervisor, because they have to
shoulder more work to make up for their teammate’s
deﬁciencies. And if you don’t address the problem
employee, the team may perceive it as favouritism or
weakness, which can be demotivating for everyone.
Supervisors may ﬁnd it easy to blame all else when things
go wrong. This ﬁnger pointing and blame game is not a
good problem-solving approach. It should not be deﬁned as
“your problem” or “my problem”, but rather as “our
problem”. The employees are responsible for their work,
but as supervisors, we are accountable for all of them.
The “we” concept must be applied in taking ownership
of problem. Instead of wasting time ﬁghting over the
problem, we should rather spend it on solution ﬁnding.
Once the root cause has been identiﬁed, countermeasures
must be put in place to avoid further recurrence.
It may include reprimanding the person responsible or
putting countermeasures in place that would put the
matter to rest. Taking responsibility, being accountable,
and focusing more on decision making and problem
solving, should be the work culture of all members of the
• Verify Potential
The ability to recognise high-potential talent builds an
organisation’s competitive advantage for the future and
allows an organization to ﬁll mission critical roles. High
potential employees can be identiﬁed as individuals who
have the ability, drive, and aspiration to hold higher
positions in an organization.
Once these individuals have been found, they can be
trained to prepare for future leadership positions. These
development eﬀorts allow high potentials to advance and
improve within an organization instead of taking their skills
and expertise elsewhere.
Supervisors need to drive the message to team members
on the importance of meritocracy. That promotion and
other ﬁnancial beneﬁts would not depend solely on their
academic qualiﬁcations or years of service alone, but it is
their performance that counts.
Promotions should not be given automatically, as gives
them the impression the organization is obliged to promote
them someday, irrespective of their performance rating in
Supervisors must not give meaning to the word “it’s who
you know and not what you know”. Organization don’t
grow or last on such concepts. It must the best man wins. It
should not also be the case of winners take all and losers
has to fall either. Supervisors can ear mark and groom
potential team members and at the same time help the
weaker ones to catch up, provided their shortfalls are not
related to any disciplinary or attitude problem.
• Instil Independence
If you manage other people, the ﬁrst thing you need to
understand is that your success depends on their success.
The more you empower your employees, the more they
will grow and thrive. Too many bosses want to be the
smartest person in the room, but if this is always true you
have utterly failed as their supervisor.
Supervisors may consider giving their employees a little
autonomy to help them prove their worthiness and move
up the career ladder. It gives them sense of independence
to do their job the way they see ﬁt with least interference
from their supervisors.
Delegation of work is also a form of autonomy which
allow team members to learn risk taking, problem solving
and decision making. It is not meant to be a blank cheque
for the team members and supervisors must still keep an
eye on them to prevent and untoward incidents.
When staﬀs are given a little autonomy and trusted with
delegation, it makes them more competent in their roles. It
also frees up time for the supervisor to attend to other
pressing issues, which has a higher impact on their role as a
Avoid being the supervisor who wants full control over
everything and anything and not wanting to trust their
staﬀs. As a result, the supervisor would always seem to be
busy and disorganised, unable grow in their career and
pulling down their team members with them. It is a clear
sign of weakness as a supervisor.
• Optimise Ownership
Treating employees as partners leads to an
understanding among the workforce that they have a
shared purpose and a common goal that everybody is
working towards. All employees irrespective of the role,
have valuable inputs for the business.
Treating all employees as partners, cannot be restricted
to a certain set of people alone but has to be consistent
across the entire workforce. It is important to consider
each and every employee from the bottom line to the top
line as partners. In fact, employees who are treated as an
important part of the organization are more likely to
contribute to its growth, irrespective of their designation.
This concept of treating employees as partners, changes
them from behaving as an employee towards
entrepreneurial like behaviour that creates a big diﬀerence
on how they think and work. Innovation, creativity and
risk-taking acumens are part of an entrepreneur’s mind set.
That is why it is important to engage them in all aspects
of the operations as a recognition of them as partners. It
eases the job of the supervisor as he or she would now have
the support of team members in realising of the
organisation’s goal and objectives.
• Reinforce Relationship
As a supervisor, you need to get in on the action and
build strong relationships and alliance with your staﬀ. Our
employees might feel underpaid, under appreciated or
under stimulated. But if they are happy with their
teammates, they may choose to stay on at your ﬁrm for
years longer than they would otherwise.
A series of strong peer relations can even help your
employees look forward to their work week. This is why
you need to encourage friendly employee relationships
among all your team members.
As sharing is a mark of caring, supervisors need to
demonstrate this relationship with their team members,
and it must be done sincerely. You fake this and they would
know. Time invested in bonding with them, especially on a
one to one basis, reaps great beneﬁts. It grows from
employer – employee relationship to a family like bondage.
It is important to not only know about your team
member as an individual, but to know and learn of their
family members. Ask to be invited (only if it is okay with
them) to their homes to get to know their families. As a
result, team members would be open and honest and have
a higher level of respect towards you. They would not want
to do anything foolish, that could embarrass them based on
the relationship you have with the members of their family.
Chapter 3 - Communications Basics
Factors That Affects Your Communication
• The Knowledge About Your Work
Learning on the job is probably the single most
important factor driving your performance at work. You
won’t know everything you need to about your job when
you’re hired, no matter how good your education is or how
much experience you had in previous positions.
The road to learning starts with a willingness to admit
what you don’t know and an interest in learning new
things. To improve your expertise, you must ﬁrst identify
gaps in your knowledge. You aren’t likely to be motivated to
learn new things, nor can you be strategic about learning, if
you’re not aware of what you know, and you don’t.
It could be that you rose from rank and ﬁle to become a
supervisor within the same organization. Or, you could
have come in from a diﬀerent organization and was oﬀered
the job as a supervisor. In the former, you might have the
necessary knowledge on how work gets done, based on
your years working there and, in the latter, you as a new
employee have got learn it fast.
Either way, you would still have to learn all there is to
know of your job as a supervisor. It is important that must
learn to be at least one step ahead of your team members.
It would be diﬃcult for your team members to look up to
you as their superior, if your knowledge of work is far more
inferior than theirs. It would be a challenge to you when it
comes to communicating work related issues with them as
they may not take you seriously. It is easier to communicate
and convince them when you the know the job as the back
of your palm.
• Use of Authority
As a supervisor within your organization, you're in a
position of authority. Authority is the most important
principle for supervisors to understand because it's a
powerful weapon of inﬂuence. Authority is easy to use and
even easier to abuse. Once you've broken the trust of your
employees, it will be hard to regain.
Authority is not to be used for personal gain. Eventually,
it will come back to bite you. Rather, use this principle
wisely, and it will result in happier, more engaged
employees who genuinely trust your leadership.
The right use of authority works to your advantage and
its abuse can bring you down. You need to use it wisely to
remain eﬀectively in charge in supervising your team
members. If you were once their colleague, they might not
want to take you seriously. If you are new to the workplace,
they are unsure of you and perhaps want to test you.
When caught in such situations, you ought not be
intimidated or caught between work and buddies. You
need to put your foot down and exert your authority within
the conﬁnes of your role as a supervisor. It must strictly be
work related and justiﬁed with facts and ﬁgure that gives no
room to your team members to questions the validity of
your authority. As diﬃcult it may be in the beginning, over
time, you’d learn to execute your authority conﬁdently, in a
fair and just manner.
• Show of Self Conﬁdence
Lack of self-conﬁdence could actually hold you back in
the workplace and prevent you from reaching your full
potential. Having insecurities at work can make it hard to
focus on your development and future success. On the
other hand, being conﬁdent in yourself and your abilities
helps you to feel good, increases your job satisfaction, and
builds up your all-around happiness in your role.
Inculcating conﬁdence is not something you can cut and
paste on you. It’s not going to be that simple as it a process
and process takes time. Communication is something we
do every day with our team members. It is the core of our
job as the supervisor and we need to be way good at it.
Communicating conﬁdently is prerequisite to eﬀective
Supervisors can learn to become conﬁdent
communicators. Though the list is not exhaustive, an
increase in work related experience, learning of new skills
and gaining knowledge from vast reading, strengthens
conﬁdence within oneself. It brings maturity to your
thinking and behaviour as a supervisor and this aura of
conﬁdence can be experienced by your team members in
your communications with them.
• Note Taking
Taking notes gives you the opportunity to highlight key
points and details that might otherwise slip your mind, and
you never know when these fragments of knowledge will
come in handy. Taking notes not only helps you retain
more information, but it’s also the key to boosting your
productivity at work.
Information we see and hear stays within our mind only
for a good 24 hours. It slowly gets erased overtime and
soon it is forgotten. A notebook and a pen in our pockets
are our tools of the trade and must be in our possession at
all times. We need to write down what we see, hear and
ideas that matters to our work.
These notes would be good place to start when
communicating with our team member, where work
related matters are discussed, and solutions are found. It
prevents lengthy meetings by getting straight to the point
and it makes everyone happy when meetings are short,
brief and productive.
• Asking Questions
Measuring engagement at work can be diﬃcult. It's not
like managers can read employees minds, so the best way
to ﬁnd out how to engage employees is to ask. What
question should supervisors ask their team members to
gain insight as to their engagement with their job and with
the company? The answers may vary, but they all require
actual listening and extending empathy toward the
employee to gain the most from the responses.
It is hard to get feedback and suggestions from the team
members if the meeting session is badly conducted. In
situations where we do all the talking and they do all the
listening, it is a classroom session, not a meeting session.
It becomes a monologue session and not a dialogue
session. Feedbacks and suggestions are hard to come from
our team members, if we don’t ask them. After having told
them what you intended to tell them, instead of waiting for
them to ask the questions, we could start the ball rolling.
Ask them questions to gauge if they’ve understood what
you’ve told them. It helps eradicate miscommunications
and the unwanted problems that comes with it. When they
pose a question to you, answer by throwing them another
question. Instead of providing direct answers, your
questions to them should make them think.
This would help them to come up with solutions, which
may surprise you. We want our team members to be
thinkers and not blind order takers. We want them to
participate in decision making, to own the problem and
make a collective decision to solve the problem.
Chapter 4 - Managing Staff
Setting Performance Standards
• Good Management Practices
There's hardly anything worse for company morale than
supervisors who practice the "do as I say, not as I do"
philosophy. When this happens, you can almost see the
loss of enthusiasm and goodwill among your team
No matter what the situation is, double standard, like
witnessing people say one thing, and then doing another,
always feel like a betrayal. They can be very destructive. If
this ever happened to you, you can probably remember
that sense of disappointment and letdown.
Code of conduct is a new norm in workplace and
adherence to it is mandatory across the board. No
exceptions. Read it, understand it and make it a culture in
your workplace and the change must come ﬁrst from you.
It all about leadership by example and walking the talk.
People see and people do.
It should not be the case when the top breaks the law,
they are allowed to get away, and when the bottom does
the same, they are punished. Then you are sending out the
wrong message and the code of conducts becomes a sham.
In fact, when the top gets punished, the message would be
loud and clear for the bottom to toe the line. Hence, the
implementation and the execution of the code of conduct,
which covers issues such as ethics, morality and integrity,
must be seen to be done without fear or favour.
• Benchmarking Against Good Industry Practices
Benchmarking is a common practice and sensible
exercise to establish baselines, deﬁne best practices,
identify improvement opportunities and create a
competitive environment within the organization.
Integrating benchmarking into your organization will result
in valuable data that encourages discussion and sparks new
ideas and practices. At its best, it can be used as a tool to
help companies evaluate and prioritise improvement
Business is about being competitive. Information is
readily available out there on how other organisations are
managing their business proﬁtably. Learn about their
product and service quality standards, labor practices,
adherence to environmental regulations, and on how they
are managing their production eﬃciently and eﬀectively.
Also learn from their ﬂaws to prevent it from happening
at your workplace. Supervisors need be sensitive to the
changes that is taking place around them to stay ahead of
• Practical and Achievable Performance Standards
Since employees are ultimately responsible for reaching
their goals, they need to have a strong voice in setting
them. Discuss with them whether the targets are both
realistic and challenging enough. Be careful though, your
team members are likely to resent you if you insist on goals
that are too challenging to accomplish. At the same time,
you don’t want to aim too low, either.
If you are overly cautious, you will miss opportunities
and settle for mediocrity. When done well, stretch goals
create a lot of energy and momentum in an organization.
But, when done badly, they do not achieve the goal of
motivating employees and helping them achieve better
performance as they were designed to do. Even worse,
poorly set goals can be destructive to employees’ morale
and productivity, and to the organisation’s performance
The organisational goals and objectives are usually
discussed and decided by the higher management. It is
later cascaded down the line for implementation and the
supervisor and their team members are tasked to achieve
these production targets. Sometimes these targets can be
ambitious and unrealistic compared to the resources made
available to the supervisor to achieve them.
It would be good if the supervisor could discuss this with
the higher management to ﬁgure out a more realistic target,
based on resources and capabilities available in the
organization. They may initially oppose your idea, but this
can be mitigated if you come to the meeting prepared.
Prepare to counter them with facts, ﬁgures and historical
data to convince the management of your side of the
argument. In addition, you need to also provide alternative
solutions, if they still insist upon the original targets.
Explain to them your constraints and what you’d need if
they’d want to stick to their initial plan. Such discussion
may not always end well, but at least you’ve made your
case clear. It abstains you from blame should things don’t
work as planned. Convey the outcome of the discussion
with your team members, at least they’ll know you’ve tried
Measuring and Evaluating Performance
• Achieving Performance Targets
Performance measurement and target setting are
important to the growth process. Knowing how the
diﬀerent areas of your business are performing is valuable
information in its own right, but a good measurement
system will also let you examine the triggers for any
changes in performance.
This puts you in a better position to manage your team’s
performance proactively. Once you've identiﬁed the key
areas that drive your business performance and found a
way to measure them, then a natural next step is to start
setting performance targets to give everyone in your
business a clear sense of what they should be aiming for.
What gets measured, gets done. Now that you have
numbers to achieve for the year, it can be broken down to
monthly and quarterly target for easy measurement and
evaluation. It’ll be too late if you were to wait till year end
to see if your team and you have achieved the numbers. It
is similar to what we’ve discussed earlier with regards to
staﬀ performance appraisal. It is easier to take the
necessary corrective actions at intervals, not when the year
is about to end and get busy ﬁreﬁghting trying to make
corrections, which by the time it’ll be all too late.
• Taking Corrective Actions
Lean management approach enables businesses to be
continually improve over time. The goal is to create a lean
environment which will help to improve quality and
eﬃciency. It's about ﬁnding anything that doesn't add value
and cutting it out to ensure time, money and eﬀort aren't
There are many concepts that can be used to manage our
work is a systematic and professional manner to produce
the desired results at workplace. You can learn about these
business tools from books and search them in the internet.
One example would be the cost and eﬀect diagram.
It can be used to trouble shoot shortfalls in performance
and solutions can be drawn up to take the necessary
correction actions. It is a systematic and scientiﬁc method
of ﬁnding and solving problems as opposed to generating
solutions through one’s intuition and gut feelings.
This concept uses the 4M method, which involves man,
machine, method and material, all which are crucial
factors, having direct impact of the performance of the
As a practical guide towards the application 4M concept,
start by drawing a ﬂow chart of your operations workﬂow.
Identify the problem areas along the workﬂow that
hampers the production process. Later, separate these
problems into man, machine, method and material.
Brainstorm with your team to identify solutions and later
implement these corrective measures to overcome the
weaknesses in your production process.
Chapter 5 –Essential Leadership Skills
Setting a Good Example
• Driver of the Company’s Mission, Vision and Values
The shortcoming is the inability to translate the mission,
vision and values into behaviours and practices and then
have the discipline to practice those behaviours every day.
The senior leaders must, at all times, role model the
behaviours they want to see throughout the organization.
If the leaders do not act as role models all of the time,
the behaviours and culture changes they desire in the
organization will not take place. Once leaders set the
organisational vision, mission and values, or other
foundational factors, they must communicate them so
clearly that all employees understand what the
organization stands for, what the organization believes,
their role, and how they are expected to act.
You would have seen the vision, mission and value
statement of the company all framed up and hung on the
wall. But there is a high possibility that you would not have
read it. You are not alone. Many employees pass by and see
it every day, but would not have cared to read it, what more
to understand and practice it.
The mission, vision and values are the guiding compass
of the organization and without being put to practice, it
would just remain as wall decorators. As a team leader, this
change starts from you. You would need to live up to it and
be an example your team members can follow.
• Lead Change
A good supervisor will inspire others to achieve the
vision of change, usually by providing examples of other
opportunities that will beneﬁt them and how they will be
rewarded by the changes. Change allows a new platform for
essential employees to shine.
Change should incorporate ideas from all employees and
inspire them to be creative in coming up with solutions. It
should promote new ways of thinking and putting teams
together to create processes that can be utilised in ways
that are exciting and beneﬁcial to the organization and its
If there is anything constant in this world, it is change.
Change is a continuous process. You need to embrace
change as the survival of the organization depends upon it.
As supervisors, we are tasked to lead change, and we need
to implement it tactfully, as wrong approach could have
adverse impacts on the organization.
You would need to learn what is the change all about,
clear the ambiguities with the higher management and
have a game plan on how to execute it down the line. Your
team member must be briefed about, answer their
concerns with sincerity and reassure them of the beneﬁts
versus the inconveniences that may need to endure during
the change period. If your team member accepts the
rationale and cost-beneﬁt of the change, your task would be
made a lot easier.
• Lead by Example
As a supervisor in your organization, you should send
the right message to your team members and colleagues.
Your team members and the people at your workplace are
expecting that you will lead by example.
You may think that your work can speak for itself, but on
the other hand, your professional image and everyday
demeanour may not project the impression that you
ultimately want. Just as you make snap judgments every
day about others, the people you come into contact with
make assumptions about you based on each interaction.
As a human, it can be hard to consistently lead by
example. We have our ﬂaws and shortcomings.
Unfortunately, this can’t be made an excuse and we must
work hard at overcoming it. Our team members look up to
us and we can’t disappoint them.
We are not perfect, and we can’t be perfect. But the quest
for perfection mustn’t stop. If we have ﬂawed along the
way, don’t get too hard on yourself. What is more
important is for us to come clean, explain ourselves and
seek the understanding and forgiveness of others for our
shortcomings. Just be careful not to make our shortcomings
Leading by example needs the supervisor to be
disciplined, punctual, walking the talk, good personal
grooming, keeps cleanliness and on. Importantly, one must
also be honest, trustworthy and a person of integrity. These
are matters which speaks of the reputation, character and
credibility of the supervisor, and if these are lost, it can be
hard to regain.
Empowering and Energising
• Inspire and Energise Team Members
Your team members may have all the expertise in the
world but, if they're not motivated, it's unlikely that they'll
achieve their true potential. On the other hand, work
seems easy when people are motivated. Motivated people
have a positive outlook, they're excited about what they're
doing, and they know that they're investing their time in
something that's truly worthwhile.
In short, motivated people enjoy their jobs and perform
well. All eﬀective supervisors want their team to be ﬁlled
with people in this state of mind. That's why it's vital that
you, as a supervisor, keep your team feeling motivated and
The level of motivation in staﬀs depletes quickly and it
has to be constantly recharged. We can charge them up
during our regular meetings with them, during team
building events, company annual dinners and such, which
are good opportunities to keeps staﬀs motivated.
But these are just irregular formal sessions, and
supervisors need to do more on a regular basis and at any
given opportunity. These sessions could be conducted on
an informal basis, especially when you notice things are
going down well with any members of your team.
Lending them an ear, listening to them and encouraging
them are little things that goes a long in uplifting them. You
may not have the answers to all their problems, but by
listening, you showed you cared.
Share your experience or of others of a similar situation,
that could boost and motivate them to rise up with zest. It
is also important that you stay motivated and seen
motivated, otherwise you’d be the last person your team
members want to meet for some motivation.
• Empower Employees
A good business is one where employees feel empowered
by their bosses to do their jobs independently and ﬁnd
creative solutions to their departments’ biggest problems. A
great business is one where employees feel empowered to
solve any problem they encounter, even if it falls outside of
their job responsibilities.
Learning how to empower others in the workplace is
particularly important for people in support roles. Focus
on empowering your coworkers to ﬁnd more time for your
own work and spend less time repeatedly answering the
When your team members grow in their career, you grow
in yours. Empowering your staﬀs would be one method of
developing and preparing them for higher responsibilities.
It means you delegate some of your responsibilities to them
together with a little authority. It does not mean getting
some else to do the job you are paid for. You are not giving
up your responsibility or authority to someone, it must
remain with you. Instead, you are sharing it with your team
member, someone whom in your view has the potential for
Supervisors may ﬁnd it hard to empower staﬀs it there is
a trust deﬁcit. They ﬁnd it hard to trust others as they
would be the one facing the brunt if things go wrong. But
how to know who you could trust?
It is not until you’ve given them the trust and they prove
you wrong. With such people you could discount them in
the future. Until such time, you must learn to trust
everyone, and this is the risk you have to take.
Leading Your Team
• Involve Everyone – Use Team Approach
A lot of workforces suﬀer from poor communication, lack
of trust, and low engagement, all of which erode the
chances of teamwork in the workplace. It’s obvious to see
that an organization beneﬁts when its employees are
working together synergistically.
Good teamwork helps to build morale in the workplace,
which makes workers more productive and ultimately
improves proﬁts. For organisations that have excellent
teamwork, problem solving is easier, since people with
diﬀerent skills and knowledge will work together to
produce a creative solution. Without good teamwork in the
workplace, it’s diﬃcult to progress as a business.
When you are given a task by the higher management,
which could be an important task, involving your team
members, you would need to discuss this with all your
team members. During the meeting, give them the details
but encourage solutions from them. Otherwise, your
members may feel that their presence in the discussion is
only a waste of time of their time.
Ideally, you could share the details of the task and throw
it to them for possible solutions. You may already have the
solution in mind, but do not spell it yet. Pose them with
guiding questions in line with the solution you already have
Eventually, they would come with the same solution as
yours, but perceived as theirs, not yours. When they
believe it was their solution, they would work hard to make
it happen. It’s called reverse psychology and it works to
The other challenge you might face, is getting members
to vote on the solution. The easy way out is to go for
majority votes. But the problem is, those who voted against
it may not be happy with the outcome.
If we pursue the solution based on the majority votes,
the minority might not support it, and this may later cause
problems. To overcome this, ideally the supervisor should
have a separate session with them and try to persuade and
convince them into accepting the majority decision.
Chances are, they still might not agree with you, but may
support your decision, as a mark of respect for you, for
having taken the trouble to speak to them. This shows
you’ve received full support from all your team members
by way of consensus, actually a remarkable achievement on
• Monitor Progress but Don’t Micromanage
It’s hard watching someone make mistakes, especially if
you already know how to avoid them. Staying silent while
they slip up (or even do things in ways you would not) is
harder. That doesn’t mean you have an excuse to
Micromanagement is the ultimate controlling
management style. Its demoralising and counter intuitive,
as the desire for control to make sure everything goes to
plan only creates more problems in the long term.
Another aspect of developing our team members is to
avoid micromanaging them. It is all about the trust and
delegation as we’ve discussed earlier. There are many ways
to get a job done. You may be pleased with the way you do
it, but then again, others might be able to do it better, if you
Once you’ve told them what you wanted done, leave the
details to them. It is okay for you to monitor them and
check on their progress periodically, in case things get a
little out of control.
But it is not okay to literally stand behind their back and
keep telling them what to do next. Supervisors need to be
patient with their team members. They are going through a
learning process, the one you once went through.
When things are not done the way you would’ve wished,
do not be tempted to take away the task from them and do
it yourself. Instead, guide them through until it gets done.
Your team members work would only get better as they go
along, making you proud of them someday.
Chapter 6 –Managing Conflicts at
Workplace conﬂict includes any type of conﬂict which
takes place within a workplace or among team members
and/or supervisors. Any type of conﬂict which involves
employees, managers, owners, customers, or others
present in a workplace can be an example of workplace
conﬂict. The term workplace conﬂict is used to describe
interpersonal or employer-employee conﬂict in a
Supervisors could ﬁnd themselves in some kind of
conﬂict with their team members, bosses, other
departments within the organization, or with third parties
outside the organization, such as suppliers, regulatory
authorities and so on. You may have learned to deal some
and to solve some, but there would always be new issues
cropping up that could result in conﬂict.
• What Creates Conﬂicts?
Conﬂict in the workplace could be the result of poor
management, unfair treatment, unclear job roles,
inadequate training, poor communication, poor work
environment, lack of equal opportunities, bullying and
harassment, signiﬁcant changes to products, organisational
charts, appraisals or pay systems. It is important to
understand the root cause of an individual's or group's
unhappiness. You can put policies and procedures in place
to help prevent and manage workplace conﬂict, but you
simply cannot eradicate them.
Competition for resources is one common source of
conﬂict. Conﬂicts over car parking space, workspace, work
related tools and resources creates conﬂict, when these
needs are scarce and limited in the organization.
We could be working in an environment, where the
people come from diﬀerent age group, culture and
educational background, and these people are bound to
see and understand things diﬀerently. This diﬀerent school
of thoughts could also lead to conﬂicts.
The rules and regulations are perhaps rigid in the
organization and this could create frustrations among
employees. Some of these rules and regulations could have
been there since decades and changes were not made to
reﬂect the current times. These regulations may seem
outdated and impractical and when the management
doesn’t take heed, it may cause an employer-employee
• Reasons Behind Conﬂicts
Employee conﬂict may be inevitable but should never be
ignored. Over time, petty grievances can turn to long-
standing antagonisms that aﬀect overall morale of the
employees. Supervisors should be aware of signs of conﬂict
and address them quickly, bringing workers together to
discuss, and resolve, areas of disagreement.
Diﬀering facts obtained from diﬀerent sources
information concerning a particular issue could cause
conﬂict. The information you have may vary from the
information obtained by others and when each believe
theirs is the correct version, it triggers conﬂict.
Using diﬀerent method of getting a work done could
contribute to conﬂict, if others have diﬀerent ideas and
preferences, in handling the same job. In an organization,
long serving staﬀs may be happy doing things the old way
and might possibly resist changes brought in by the young
juniors, even if it is proven to be better.
When organisational goals are given diﬀerent priorities, it
causes conﬂict. Within the management team, some may
emphasise on achieving production targets, others on
quality standards, customer satisfaction, proﬁtability and
It may pose a challenge to juggle between all these goals,
when priorities of the organization keep changing. If this
conﬂict is left unchecked, it may even derail the vision,
mission and goals of the organization.
When the value system of the organization and of the
individual clashes, it causes conﬂicts. Management may
prioritise shareholder proﬁt and wants employees to work
longer hours and even on holidays.
Employees may feel they need to have a work life
balance and might not agree with the management’s
suggestions. When both parties are unable to compromise,
it creates conﬂicts.
• Conﬂict Resolution Strategies
Collaboration strategy involves both parties working
towards a mutual goal, with equal investment and equal
energy. This is typically looked at as a win-win situation.
The trick is to ﬁnd and discuss issues similar to both and
not to waste time arguing on points of diﬀerence. Once we
can begin to agree on similar points, the mood is set to
overcome points of diﬀerence.
Compromise strategy means that one or both of you have
adjusted your standards and expectations for this issue.
You may win some and be prepared to lose some. You
should not take a stance of winner takes all as this is not a
zero-sum game. It is no time to display ego as is the interest
of the organization that must take precedence. We give in
as a mark of our goodwill, in the hope that the other party
may reciprocate the same in the future.
Competition strategy takes eﬀect when interests are at
odds with one another, and one or both parties try to get
the upper hand. This strategy leaves someone feeling like
the loser. This happens when performance of individuals or
department within the organization are evaluated
separately and they tend to be competitive and work in silo.
When everyone within the same organization trying to
outsmart one another, the organization loses.
Accommodation strategy is when you place the interest
of the other party ahead of your own as a good will gesture.
As a word of caution, this strategy should not be used
often, especially when it is clearly not your fault. In such
situation, giving in too often can be construed as mark of
your guilt or weakness.
Avoidance strategy could lead to a lose-lose situation for
both conﬂicting parties. Nothing gets discussed, so nothing
gets resolved. It is tantamount to sweeping the problem
under the carpet. If this conﬂict remains unresolved,
overtime it may escalate into a bigger problem, which
would be hard to contain, possibly causing irreparable
damage to the conﬂicting parties and the organization.
Chapter 7 –Managing Discipline at
Who Is Responsible?
Discipline means a prescribed conduct or pattern of
behaviour. Employee discipline at workplace can be
deﬁned as adherence to the company policies, rules,
regulations as laid down by the management. If employees
are not disciplined to report at work on time, take long
breaks in between work or spend excessive time on social
media etc. then their productivity tends to suﬀer.
They fall behind in achieving their targets and
accomplishing the task at hand. This in turn demotivates
other team members and there is a vicious spiral of
productivity loss with overall drop in team performance.
Employee discipline contributes towards productive
work environment and ensures smooth functioning of the
organization. It is one of the primary responsibilities of
human resource division to have in place disciplinary
policies and ensure adherence.
It would be nearly impossible to manage you team
members if they lack discipline. Each has to know their
roles and responsibilities and perform them diligently for
the smooth running of the operations. Any weak link in the
chain, could put the whole team in disarray, derailing the
mission, vision, goals and objectives of the organization.
Supervisors must be a shining example of discipline. It is
hard to get the team members to follow discipline if we as
their supervisor ﬁnd it hard to do so. If our team members
are better disciplined than us, our standing and reputation
as their supervisor becomes tarnished. Our conduct would
put the management in an embarrassing situation, that
could possibly warrant them to demote or dismiss our
services from the organization.
The role of the human resource department is to
facilitate the enforcement of discipline across the whole
organization. They are there to help the respective
supervisors in handling and resolving disciplinary issues. It
must be remembered that, it is the job of every supervisor
to manage the discipline of their staﬀs.
It cannot be seen as the sole responsibility of human
resource division alone. When it comes to managing
discipline in the workplace, it becomes everyone’s
Often, we associate discipline with punishment. Well,
that’s not the case. An eﬀective disciplinary policy ensures
proper order at the workplace through corrective
behaviour. Discipline management is intended to promote
a minimum acceptable behaviour by employees. With
organisational discipline, the employees learn to behave in
a controlled and responsible way and start abiding by the
guidelines laid down by the organization.
There are labor laws which govern the enforcement of
discipline at workplace. Supervisors must take the initiative
to get hold of this labor Act, read and understand it, as this
would enable them to enforce discipline within the ambits
of the labor law.
In enforcing discipline, this must be carried without fear
or favour, for everyone is equal before the law. There must
never be double standards and if this happens, the whole
enforcement of discipline in the workplace would become
a mockery. When team members believe that the law
applies to all, they would respect and adhere to it.
Supervisors must be conversant on the workings of the
disciplinary process. When unsure, it is good to refer the
matter with human resource division for advice.
They must master the disciplinary process, beginning
from verbal warning right until dismissal to avoid running
fault of the law. It has negative ﬁnancial implications to the
organization, if the courts ﬁnd that the organization has
unlawfully terminated the services of an employee.
Chapter 8 –Motivating and Coaching
Ask Versus Tell Approach
Don’t tell the employee what to do, instead ask powerful
questions. This allows the employee to create their own
solutions. When they go through the thought process to get
to resolution, they are much more bought in. It is their
idea. Your team members will be developed and challenged
in a way that truly builds new skills and enables them to
learn from experiences.
In are in constant communication with our team
members in the day to day running of business operations.
We are their point of reference and expected to know the
answers to their questions.
This could put us, as their supervisors in a diﬃcult
position, especially when we may not have answers to all
their questions. We could reverse the situation by asking
them the right questions. This would make them think of
possible solutions and they’ll be amazed by their ability to
ﬁnd the answers on their own.
When the above method is carried out on a regular basis,
you’ll notice a drop in the number of them wanting to see
you for answers. They would now become thinkers, able to
solve problems on their own and would only come to us as
a last resort. This does not mean that they are free to make
all decision on their own, as for matters above their limit of
authority, they would still need to bring it to you for your
•Focus on The Task
When discussing a problem related to work, it is
important that you separate the people from the problem.
People are not the problem, and if you approach an issue as
if they are, you likely won’t get anywhere.
Handling people sensitively and respectfully is a
prerequisite for successful problem solving. Continually ask
yourself whether you’re separating the people from the
problem and learning to eﬀectively deal with both.
Supervisors must learn to separate between the problem
and the person. It is a mark of professionalism on the part
of the supervisor. When mistakes are done by our team
members, the focus must be on solution ﬁnding, not
personal berating. During your rounds of inspection at the
workplace, your mission is to identify solutions, not fault
It must be our mission to catch people doing right and to
turn it into an opportunity to praise them. It must never be
our mission to catch them doing wrong and using it as an
opportunity to humiliate them.
In the end, the whole idea is to make it a learning
process for everyone. We must all learn from each other’s
success and failures. We are all in this together. The path
towards continuous improvement is then paved for the
continued prosperity of the whole organization.
Coaching can be deﬁned as a continuous process of
providing team members with feedback to enhance,
maintain and improve their performance.
The supervisor observes performance, shares knowledge
and expertise, and provides encouragement to assist team
members in continuously reaching higher levels of
performance. Coaching enables team members to develop
their thinking and actions in response to diﬀering
situations. The coaching approach encourages learning,
growth and teamwork all at the same time.
Each of the team members are responsible for the tasks
they are entrusted with. The supervisor is tasked to be
accountable for the overall operations. When things go
wrong, the individual team member is held responsible,
and the supervisor, together with the other team member
must work together to overcome the problem.
As for reporting it to the higher management, the
supervisor must take the brunt as a mark of his or her
accountability. In the event you push the blame to your
team members, your position as their supervisor would be
meaningless. A worthy supervisor is the one who credits
his team for their achievements and takes full blame for
To ensure members of the team are doing it right all the
time, eﬀorts must be ampliﬁed to keep team members
focused on their tasks. The supervisor needs to facilitate
and coach them into achieving the set organisational goals
and objectives. It would give your team members a sense of
accomplishment and for you, a sense of satisfaction.
The goal of performance coaching is not to make the
employee feel bad. The goal of coaching is to work with the
employee to solve performance problems and to improve
the work of the team, and the department.
Done well, coaching can help an employee to
continuously improve their skills, experience, and ability to
contribute. Coaching is an eﬀective tool for supervisors to
deploy in their eﬀorts to help team members succeed and
increase their skills and their potential opportunities for
promotion or lateral moves to more interesting positions.
Coaching is an ongoing process. It is not something that
supervisors do on an occasional basis and expect the
message to permanently set in with their team members. In
fact, coaching is a continuous process and needs to be done
repeatedly, as humans have a short memory span. Formal
coaching can take place in the form of pre work brieﬁngs.
You could recap with your team members on what has
happened the day before and to make todays performance
better than yesterday. This can also take place during
scheduled meetings, where your members can come out of
it learning something new that could help them perform
better in their jobs. Informal coaching can take place
during your walkabouts around the factory area. This is an
opportunity to meet them in person and share valuable
information with them that could help boost their work
•Coaching Plus Points
When organisations coach employees, beneﬁts to the
organization include, overcome costly and time-consuming
performance problems, strengthen employees’ skills. The
supervisor can delegate more tasks to their employees and
focus on more important supervision responsibilities, boost
productivity by helping your employees work smarter.
This helps to develop a deep bench of talent who can
step into your shoes as you advance in the company. It also
helps to improve employee retention, as employees are
more loyal and motivated when their bosses take time to
help them improve their skills.
When employees are coached, they build valuable skills
and knowledge that they can use to advance in their
careers. They would feel supported and encouraged and
experience the pride and satisfaction that comes from the
Coaching team members could be tedious and tiring. It
needs of loads of patients in seeing this process through.
But it is not without its advantages. Just as the continuous
beatings of waves turns rocks into ﬁne sands, the same
metaphor applies on coaching on your team members.
Over a period of time, they could only get better in their
job. When individuals improve, the team improves as a
whole. It lays the path for performance excellence to
become the culture of the organization. This culture would
be self-regulated and new members would automatically
blend in as the structure is already well in place.
Communication among the team would be smooth, as
information updating, and sharing would be transparent
and ongoing to keep up the performance excellence culture
intact. Positive changes would be readily accepted and
implemented in the interest of performance improvement
across the organization.
When we build the people, they build the business.
Perhaps, you would no longer be their supervisor. Your
employers may have found your replacement. You’ve
probably received a letter from the management. It is time
for you to move up!
It is said that the best place to horn your management
and leadership skills is at supervisors’ level. You are the
man of the moment, the go between the higher
management and your subordinates. You may receive brick
bats from both ends, but it turns you into an excellent
You must be reliable in your planning and able to execute
it well with good communication skills with everyone you
come to contact with. You need to always keep discipline
and morale high, in you and your team members, if you
wish to be taken seriously in the organization.
There is always development that is taking place around
you. If you want to be kept abreast, you would need to
continuously upgrade your skills and knowledge.
The cooperation and support you receive from others
depend heavily on the kind of the relationship you have
with them. Your success or failure relates to your attitude
towards yourself and others. If it needs correction, do it
now. Great knowledge and skills are useless when your
Learn to be of some value to others. Harness your
capabilities, in the areas of communication, decision
making, problem solving, cost management and people
skills. There is more to it, but these are the cores. Treat the
organization you work for as your own and learn to think
like an entrepreneur. Be creative and innovative to come up
with continuous improvement plans that would make the
stakeholders and shareholders happy having you. Be the
best in what you do and do what it takes to be one. You’ll
be seen as someone of much valuable, in the eyes of both
the higher management and your team members.
If you could build yourself, you could also build others.
Develop your team members to their highest potential. Stay
close to them as their mentor and counsellor, ever ready to
share and care for them. They would live your legacy for it
takes a leader to build another. Make it possible, for
perhaps you could be the chosen one.
About the Author
Mohamad Idrakisyah is passionate about building people
as they would help build the business. When people learn
to manage themselves, they are capable of managing
others, and in the process are better positioned to manage
and build the business. He has fervently shared his
knowledge, skills and experience with diﬀerent level of
audiences, during his years in the corporate world and
later as professional trainer and consultant, specialising in
the areas of business management, leadership and talent
He has served in public listed companies in senior
management positions, both in Malaysia and in countries
abroad. He has developed a ﬂair for managing and
developing people from various educational, religious and
cultural backgrounds. His thoughts and ideas have
inﬂuenced many young and aspiring individuals, who in
turn, have strived to make their own positive contributions
at their workplaces.
Mohamad Idrakisyah also writes regularly, contributing
articles of interests to the print and electronic media. He
concentrates his writings on matters related to personal
development, in connection to business, management,
leadership and current issues. In addition, he is a regular
speaker at corporate companies, schools and universities,
sharing his thoughts to help develop human capital to its
Mohamad Idrakisyah is an ardent believer in lifelong
learning. He graduated in automotive engineering, has a
master’s degree in business administration and is currently
pursuing his doctorate in business and management.
Mohamad Idrakisyah endeavours to enrich the lives of
others through knowledge, so they in return could enhance
the lives of others in their own unique way. It would be in
keeping with God’s will for His creations, to live life to its
fullest, in service to Him and all His creations.
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